What is the difference between a virtual office and outsourcing?
At first glance, virtual offices and outsourcing share certain similarities. If outsourcing means hiring a third party to complete tasks for you, then using a virtual office seems to fall into that category – answering phone calls, forwarding mail and taking messages.
The difference lies in the services that are offered by companies that provide virtual offices, as some do not provide the virtual assistant or virtual receptionist who is your representative. They are responsible for the important telephone communication and administration work.
How does a virtual office work?
The basic service that a virtual office provides is an address for businesses to use. Mail that is sent by clients and customers can be forwarded on, all over the world. LEO offers a prestigious central London address for our clients, from the City of London to Mayfair.
Some virtual offices also offer a virtual receptionist, sometimes known as a virtual assistant, and LEO’s customers can also enhance their virtual offices by adding a central London telephone number to their business address and mail handling service. When clients call, their calls are fielded by a virtual receptionist who can re-direct the call or take a message and then forward.
Why do businesses need virtual offices?
The costs of setting up a company office can be prohibitive, especially in places like central London. For start-ups and international businesses that are opening an office in the UK, a virtual office is an excellent solution to the problem of expensive property prices. An entrepreneur who is trying to gather funding and create a new business needs flexibility that does not come with a 12-month lease. To help instil confidence in potential customers, having a virtual office address in a place like St Paul’s or Mayfair is a great solution.
It’s also important for international businesses who may want to test out the UK market before making a substantial investment. No visa is required to open a virtual office in London, and you don’t even need to be a UK resident to set up a limited company in Britain. For a more in-depth look at visas, take a look at our recent blog post Do you need a visa to set up a virtual office in London?
What is a virtual assistant and is it different to a virtual receptionist?
A virtual assistant can mean several different things and ranges from an automated telephone answering system to a virtual PA who operates remotely and may serve several different clients. A virtual receptionist is dedicated to handling your phone calls according to your availability schedule. If you’re free, the call will be forwarded to you; if not, you’ll get a message.
Some companies offer a cheaper, automated solution – a virtual robot who can answer calls on your behalf. This less personal service has some advantages for businesses on a very tight budget, but there can be pitfalls as some customers do not like dealing with operator menus.